The First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Home Inspections

A man with a clipboard goes through a home inspections checklist

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, it’s easy to get wrapped up in finding your dream home. After all, a home that checks all your boxes is a major win and you deserve to enjoy the victory! Just keep in mind no matter how perfect your new home is on paper, a home inspection is crucial before you sign on the dotted line.

Test Your Detective Skills By Conducting Your Own Home Inspection

While we’re not suggesting this is a replacement for a professional home inspection, sometimes your own senses and curiosity can be a great starting point. Make a home inspection checklist, so you don’t forget anything. Grab your phone to take pictures and a notepad to document your observations

Inspect the Property 


Walk around the property to spot foundation issues. Note any trees growing close enough that their roots may cause damage. And definitely check the roof for sunken areas, rot, or potential rodent access. If one area of the yard is very green and lush, there could be an underground leak that needs addressing.

Flip Every Switch & Engage Your Senses

Once inside the house check that light switches, fans, toilets, and faucets work. Test the air conditioning and hot water. These things may feel invasive but you’re test driving the home, just like you do when buying a car. Tap into your senses. What do you hear, smell, and see? Look for cracks in the wall or basement floor. Listen for dripping sounds or running toilets as you move throughout the home. Take in the scent of each room and note any red flags like putrid or overtly perfumey fragrances. That whiff of Febreeze could be an overzealous seller trying their best to impress or it could be an attempt to mask a problem.  

Home Inspection Tips & Documents

Okay, playing amateur detective was fun, but was it enough? The simple answer is no. Your realtor will provide a Seller’s Disclosure, which lists known damages and defects of the property. However, disclosures may not document everything. So having a professional home inspection is in your best interest. 

Once your offer is accepted, a purchase agreement will be drawn up. Make sure to include an inspection contingency in your agreement. Adding this gives you time to hire a home inspector and receive an inspection report. It also gives you the power to ask the sellers to do repairs based on the report’s findings, renegotiate the price, or back out of the sale entirely.

Hiring A Home Inspector

Interview home inspectors by asking questions about their experience, if their license is valid and up to date, the inspection cost, timeline, and what their process includes. For example, If they don’t cover mold or termites in their procedure, you may have to hire additional specialty inspectors who do. 

Inspections typically cost between $300 and $500. While it may seem expensive, it’s nothing compared to the thousands you’d spend on costly repairs. Plus, they’ll save you from the trauma of exploring cramped spaces only to discover a rat king cracking its knuckles!

Home Inspection Checklist 

Once you’ve hired a pro, schedule a home inspection and plan to show up, even if it’s towards the end, so you can hear the findings firsthand. Just stay out of the inspector’s way, but bring a copy of the seller’s disclosure, a home inspection checklist with questions, and your own list of notes and concerns.

The inspection process can take three hours or more. Once it’s over ask if they’re willing to show you the damaged areas. Ask them for this in advance to account for the extra time. Their thoroughness and expertise are a valuable service, so respecting their time and knowledge is not only a basic courtesy, it may lead to some helpful advice!

Get Approved To Buy Your Home By Calling Hixon

Getting a home inspection is an important part of buying a home. And now that you’re knowledgeable about its importance and process you’ll be prepared to tackle it without confusion! Schedule a meeting with one of our expert mortgage loan officers to help you get approved and recommend an independent, experienced home inspector who has dealt with many rat kings and super cool detectives.

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